Have you ever wondered how you can make a plan to live the life you want and then, build a career to make that a reality? Today, Vivek Nanda will walk us through how he did that and how you can do it too.
Vivek Nanda is an experienced marketing leader, who has switched careers from Engineering to Marketing. He has scaled tech startups from zero to millions of dollars of revenue, building repeatable and scalable growth engines with solid teams. He has lived and worked on 3 different continents. He loves to share strategies on switching careers, making the right career choices, and lessons learned.
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25. How to Land Multiple Dream Jobs and Convince Start-Ups to Hire You, even if you don't have much experience yet with Vivek Nanda
Vivek Nanda: [00:00:00] one thing I realized is this, all these smart people will tell you " be with the people whom you want to be, create those circles."
But I think people need to tell us the first thing, how to find the right circles.
Jette Stubbs: today we are talking with Vivek Nanda from Jorsek.
So there are a few things I think so many people can resonate with. One is studying something, not fully knowing what it was because somebody recommended it to you. I think so many people go off to university and they spend four years doing that. And then they're in this career and they didn't even fully know what it was to begin with.
And it's because their auntie or their uncle or their parents told them, Hey, you should try this out. And it just, that turned into this life decision took up like eight years of their life. And it's so hard to figure out how to make that shift.
Like you took so much initiative to go out and reach out to these companies and pitch yourself and send out that cold email.
How are you choosing the companies that you chose to pitch to? And how did you manage your [00:01:00] time? Because you were working full-time I don't know what other responsibilities you had. So how did you manage that time and choose who strategically you would pursue to make the best value? How did you build up the confidence to take those risks?
You're listening to the Happy Career Formula with Jette Stubbs where we talk about how to find what you love to do and turn it into ways to make money, whether that's a job, freelance service or a business, so you can live life on your own terms.
So today we are talking with Vivek Nanda from Jorsek, and I'm just gonna throw it over to Vivek. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and what you do?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, delighted to be on your show. So thank you. so Jette said VP of marketing at Jorsek.
I'm based out of New York city living with my family here. But actually I started my career in tech as a programmer, and that was a while ago in India. And almost for [00:02:00] the first decade, I worked in several roles with big companies like Verizon and Oracle. And from there on, I actually moved into my second period, a bigger market here.
And also move continents from India to Germany. Spent three years in Germany and then found a German startup in healthcare space that was expanding into the U S market and move with the founders to the U S and expanded that company, the U S market. And for the last six years, I've been in the U S in New York city and basically helping and growing and working with early stage startups.
Jette Stubbs: Okay. So that's a really diverse career experience. So let's break that down a little bit. You said you started in India in programming. How did you decide to shift out of programming? Because a lot of people are in that space, where they're in a job and they're trying to make that shift into entrepreneurship or figure out. Also they're [00:03:00] considering international experience.
I know so many people want to travel and live abroad when they work. So how did you make that next move? Can you give me a bit more detail?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah, absolutely. First of all, it was a great job. I did get a chance to fly to USA. I actually been to USA a couple of times with my tech jobs. it was quite a transition.
So my backstory is this. I was a born in a middle-class family in India. My dad was in air force, my mom teacher. From the beginning of like really early childhood, I wanted to just join Indian army. That was the kind of that's what I saw. And I was inspired by my uncle, my dad, who both were in army and air force.
So that's how it was. So I actually ended up going to boarding school to join Indian army. Those are the specialist kind of schools in India. What happened is when I was in ninth grade, I just realized that I couldn't get to the Indian army because they have a very strict medical routine or examination. And I [00:04:00] had a medical condition, which was like, there was no way they would take me. That moment I decided that this is there's no point in staying there, even though I was doing really well there. Really enjoying my time there. I actually got out of the school really shattered thinking that this is the only thing I really wanted and it did not happen.
When I went to the high school, I had no plans, no understanding of what I would do, but then my uncle was like at least try engineering and see if that will be helpful. So I ended up going to an engineering college, but really not understanding what it is to be honest.
And I actually became electronics and communication engineer. And my first job, and I ended up working for Verizon as a C plus plus programmer for that company. Which C plus plus programming, you study as part of your engineering course. So it wasn't like really out of the thing. Once I started, it was a struggle because I didn't no why I really wanted to do it, but I was willing to put hours.
We're making a lot of progress. What eventually happened to me after [00:05:00] four or five years into the tech world was I started to looking into a career where I thought that if I cannot build a Facebook two weeks, like by myself, this is not the thing I want to be with.
And that was back of mind that I'm not at that scale in the tech field. And again, everyone sets their own parameters, but for me, that was the thing. So I realized that I don't want to do it, but what happened simultaneously? One of my ex managers he started a start up in San Francisco.
It was an app company and I said, Oh, I will help you with market research, how this app works. This was a vocabulary building app where you can find vocab learn vocab and for GMAT sat, et cetera. And I said, I will help you. And I just researched on the internet, wrote a blog post, and then they got 10,000 downloads from there and he was like, wow whatever you did, I will pay you like [00:06:00] 10% on each download because it was a paid app.
And I was like, I really don't know what happened, but from there on basically it was my first fluke that happened and I sucked into marketing, doing different things. And one after another, I kept doing different projects and eventually basically made a move that I will move into marketing full time and quit my eight years of tech career.
And that's how basically I made the full switch. So really learning about your passions and learning new skills and realizing that the skills that I have is something I can build on and basically took a bet on that and jumped into a career out of the tech, moved into marketing.
Jette Stubbs: So there are a few things I think so many people can resonate with. One is studying something, not fully knowing what it was because somebody recommended it to you. I think so many people go off to university and they spend four years, doing that. And then they're in this career and they didn't even fully know what it was to begin with.
And it's because like [00:07:00] their auntie or their uncle or their parents told them, Hey, you should try this out. And it just, that turned into this life decision took up like eight years of their life. And it's so hard to figure out how to make that shift, but then you end up finding this fluke, right You go into marketing and it's this fluke that it's so successful. How did you take that fluke and then replicate that. So it was continuously successful. How did you figure out how to do that?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. Before I answer that, I actually wanted to answer for the previous thing you said, take our circles, right?
Our circles define our life lot. If you are the first one to go to college, you really don't know what's there. So I was the first engineer in my family close one and it looked very nice from outside. But do I really want it? I don't know. But one thing I realized is this, all these smart people will tell you that " be with the people whom you want to be, create those circles."
But I think people need to tell us the first thing, how to [00:08:00] find the right circles. Nobody tells you that. And I think that's something, I don't know. No, I don't have an answer. How would you find those good circles? But I guess it is like meet more people and that's how you discover that's internet.
It's given us that power and I think that's that's the thing. People should make you as often. I actually might use something then I will tell you my story next, but but yeah, to answer this question. Yeah. First time it was a fluke.. So after that I was like, what if I pick a different area in marketing each time and do it?
And if it works, I will really know if I can replicate it. So when I started doing worse I basically you're subscribed to so many email lists and I was subscribed to one Canadian company. It was selling software certification courses, and then email came to me like selling the course because I was software engineer.
Then I actually wrote them back saying that " I don't know what you guys are trying to do. This is like a terrible email. Let me help you with this email" those guys were like, "yeah, sure. [00:09:00] But we don't have money" and are Canadian guys. And I was like sitting in India. I said, no, I don't worry about money.
Let me help you out. And in return you write me a recommendation letter, experience that or whatever that is. And I'll do it for free. So I did it. I actually helped them build the email marketing. I ran and built it. I helped them build their blog, a community, and then they started getting email subscribers and started making sale.
But then I, after this, I realized that, Oh, I now learn one more area of marketing. So now our next area picked social media marketing. And I did the same thing with another company. I cold email them. I said, I can help you with, and they said, what do you want? I said, no money. I just want the recommendation once I'm done with this.
So what I was doing was I was taking, I realized that if you take money from you, you reduce chances of failure. People will fire you even before you make a mistake. By not taking [00:10:00] money. You actually give yourself that room to make mistakes. And that was my strategy. I said, you know what? I will learn with the real world businesses.
But without risks. So that they don't feel pressured, I'm cheating them. I get enough time to do the work because I'm doing it for free. And that's how I did each time we used different area. And after doing that for six, seven companies in different areas of marketing, I actually built a website of my own from scratch.
It's called city H Y d.info. It was a city recommendation guide where people can know places to eat, places to hang out, nicer resorts and restaurants, stuff like that. I built that website from scratch from zero to 200 K visitors in five months, social media, following 10,000 people followed results, started coming to me and started paying me sponsor fees.
So basically I build this whole thing in six months. And after that, I was fully confident that. Yeah. Now I know [00:11:00] marketing I can go into this thing and press a button, but yeah, it's a matter of how you replicate those things. And I of course, made this effort of going after each one of them to gain experience for free.
That's the kind of trick when I played with them. Then I use all these recommendation letters for the job. I used them as experience to show them that I worked for all these companies and I got all these CEOs and founders from different companies and they gave me the "Yeah, he worked on this" anyway.
And I put it on my resume as showing that I'm not even though I had a full-time job, but all of these things were running in parallel and I could put it because that was the truth. I had the experience with them. And so that helped me build the credibility for the next marketing group full time.
So that kind of what the strategy was.
Jette Stubbs: So there are a few things that are amazing about that one. You really took a lot of initiatives. So how I, that leads to my follow-up question.
Like you took so much initiative to go out [00:12:00] and reach out to these companies and pitch yourself and send out that cold email.
How are you choosing the companies that you chose to pitch to? And how did you manage your time? Because you were working full-time I don't know what other responsibilities you had. So how did you manage that time and choose who strategically you would pursue to make the best value? Or did you just send out like thousands of emails?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. The reality is this, when you do stuff for free, you actually don't need to send a lot of emails. A few is enough because you'll get a yes from. I thought a lot of work because there is a need, right. People need resources. And if they can find free, they take especially early stage companies.
So one strategy was I wanted to focus on early stage companies from the beginning because I know they're always run on resource crunch, so they always need help. If I can offer them for free, it's almost wow, okay. Let's have him. Even if there is risk for this site. So that was one of the strategies, but it wasn't about bulky mailing while [00:13:00] reaching out.
It was limited. All I had to do was just look at if this is a under 50 employees company, if it was then I will go. And of course I did not go or venture out for businesses where I do not understand. My area was understanding tech internet. Software those kinds of things that I'm familiar with.
So I really targeted from that. Of course I had my full-time job, but I guess the realization of once you get into your mind, that the thing that you're doing is not good enough for you and you start finding joy of what you're doing outside of work.
So I think you don't care about time as much. So I was more like, Oh yeah, just get out of home. After dinner, I will start and I'm working from 6:00 PM to midnight or 1:00 AM, but it was so much fun because it was a completely new adventure. when you're in that mode and you are liking it, you're not tired. Basically, it's fun.
So I used to tell everyone in my office that the real [00:14:00] learning starts and it was a life lesson just in general for everyone. And personally, for me that the real learning that you excel in your life professionally not happens nine to five. It happens after that because that's the time that you put in your work and building your skill, that's going to help you accelerate your career.
Not what you do at the job. Job is just more like the whatever you learned. You're just trying there. The learning happens in your own time, the time that you're putting. So this is what the lesson I learned. And yeah, it wasn't really a pain. It was obviously more hours. But I totally enjoyed it.
Jette Stubbs: That makes a lot of sense. And it absolutely aligns with the things that I usually explain to my clients, like exploring your interests outside of school, outside of your work, these things then turn into the careers that you've pursued because people come to you and they want to learn more and more about you.
But there was something that you said earlier where you said you started off by learning about [00:15:00] one area of marketing, and then you pursued another area of marketing and then another area. So how did you go about learning all of these skills? Was this you just compiling a bunch of lessons from YouTube or Google?
Like how did you go about deciding, Hey, I'm going to take this step and then this step to learn it because I loved what you said I think it's absolutely true when you are offering something for free companies are a much more lenient and if you fail or something, doesn't work because you're basically allowing them to test and investing in much in their company as they are, but they don't have to pay you anything.
And then if they grow, they're going to be happy to pay you because you were there with them while they didn't have the money to pay. So I think that's amazing, but how did you go about learning all of these different skills? Cause that's a lot to master all of those different areas of marketing.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. I guess this is where I was naturally from my path of engineering, where I'm coming from. And I think there is more overlap between marketing and engineering than I anticipated. [00:16:00] Meaning in marketing, everything is today's world is all about looking at data and tools. There's so many marketing, I'm pretty sure you are using for example, you're using these Descript, it's a tool too. Somebody needs to learn that tool.
So being an engineer helped me with the tools. I could learn tools really fast, which was my advantage because I did not recognize that while moving into marketing, but I had the bend of that creativity and the marketing side of it anyway, naturally. So it was a perfect mix. First of all, just to get a head, start with the marketing itself.
But marketing itself is a trade. When you visit a website it's already throwing at you multiple things, right? You're seeing copy, you're looking from the Google search. So you're understanding, Oh, why it showed up on Google. So SEO. And then once you got on the website, there is social media links.
So you like, you click on those and then they're like, Oh, social media. So there are in marketing, there's [00:17:00] already a pattern served to you. In front of you really? So you'd so I think in any trade, whenever you go, what happens is it's never one thing that's presented itself. Is a bunch of things that's presenting itself in front of you, and you need to start connecting those dots.
Like I ask very genuine question things that you don't know, like why this is that and why this is there. And once you ask those question that will already help you understand and unpack what really makes this thing. And then you can prioritize from those things like, okay, you know what I got, I initially six, seven things are happening here, but I understood four of them.
And I don't know what these three are. Let me figure it out. Just read a little bit about what it is and what it is. So that's your elementary knowledge, fundamental knowledge, but there, that knowledge gives you the building block of what, three, four things you want to pick first. from there on you stop doing it because you can't learn it all.
You have to start from somewhere and you have to [00:18:00] prioritize, that's the success, right? Because everyone got limited hours in a day. I guess the thing is be honest, with what, you know right now. Ask questions. Simply look what's there. And then based on what you understand, then you ask two people in friend who are there what do you think about top three things more important and what would be important to me or whatever I read on the internet.
I picked those three areas as first. My go-to one by one. So yeah, that's where it was. That's all it was planned.
Jette Stubbs: I think what you said was really interesting about the connection between engineering and marketing, because I never really saw that connection before, because it's all these social media platforms they're using, like Google is using algorithms, that's all SEO, that's all engineering on the backend.
And that's the part that I really don't understand what I'm going into. I get the conversation that you can have with a human being, but then understanding how that SEO piece comes in and how the algorithms work. It's really, probably very helpful to have an engineering lens when you're breaking that down.
So I [00:19:00] never really made that connection. Cause I think so many engineers that I work with struggle with that communication piece. Cause in engineering, you focus on the math and the numbers and you're not necessarily taught those people to people communication skills to sell or to market yourself.
So did you have that gap or did you find that you were naturally like a sales person and you were able to have those conversations more organically? Because you're talking about taking that understanding of that algorithm and maybe the few key words that should be in there and then crafting it that into some compelling email copy or some compelling website copy.
And I feel although the engineering skills are useful, there's this gap and yes, you narrowed it down to three or four things that you should learn, but then where do you go to fill in that gap? Like how did you start to do that? Or was it just purely trial and error?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah it was so first of all the engineering part, right?
There is a whole lot of, like you said, a connection between both of these and I'll give you an example. When I was building my very first [00:20:00] venture that a city guide website. The reason how I was able to build that so much traffic so quick without spending money was I realized that Google algorithm was ranking images really quickly on search.
So I didn't win the game of search traffic on the words, but image I was winning. So all my images were ranked in the top searches for every picture I was uploading on my website back then Google was ranking that's how it was working. And what happened was there was like 200,000 visitors in five months time, just through image traffic, because people are looking for the sites. And they wanted to look images and people are looking at places, restaurant Google was showing images.
So that was the, that was a big connect, right? Like a big pool of people. Like you said, probably non-engineers will struggle from that part, but it worked for me. As far as the gap of social skills, just like the selling skills. So I guess this is where you have to be [00:21:00] honest with your own personal skill set a bit.
There's obviously a gap for sure. A sales person is far more social. They're better selling skill versus a software engineer is like behind the desk job. But but my personal trajectory even in tech world. It's been like being that person who's like behind the computer individual contributor to a client facing role.
That was natural to me because that's how my personality was within tech. So I started as a programmer C plus plus, but then eventually I was moving to a quality assurance engineer. Then I became product manager and within product manager, then you're really talking to the customer and understanding what they want on software.
So this was a gradual shift because of my personality within tech what's happening. So I worked for big companies In Oracle, I was working for a financial services. In Canada, USA and they were all banking customers. Like I was on client calls, understanding what kind of software they need.[00:22:00]
And I was already asking them that question. So I was good with naturally at that level, not maybe to the level of selling, but to the level of just not a normal engineer, but more like a customer facing engineer. There is obviously a gap and that gap is I said I'm an introvert, but my wife says, no, you're not anymore.
I still consider myself an introvert. But I got so well into when I am in my professional work. I don't think I am like limited to anything. I'm just like so much enjoying the conversation, meeting with people and that almost to other side, it looks like extravert or a seller. It's my same personality, but it's just like this learning areas so much comfortable to me, this space of marketing that I just feel like at home.
That gives me more voice more a way how I express stuff better way of understanding my audiences, of course, part of my job. But that gap was filled with just experience. You meet [00:23:00] people, you do it trial and error. You try different thing. You make sure you've caught mistakes.
When I built that website, I actually hired bloggers to write blogs, content generated by people. And I didn't want to pay them because I did not have money to pay in the beginning. So I used to pitch to them that, Hey, you know what? You're just like me, an engineer in the city, you are coming from somewhere.
What is the spot that you love? You write on my blog. I will feature you. And eventually what happened when these resorts started to come to me, I started to tell bloggers said, Hey, if you write, they will give you a free lunch. You go there, take pictures, come back. And that's your incentive, but you write here on my website.
So that's where I started building more people, connection through selling and expanding my website. And yeah, but basically like one thing after another you're once you start to understand, you have to increase or enhance your business. You start looking at the lens of it's people to people transaction at the end. Whatever, maybe you're selling. [00:24:00] So I guess that's how you learn. So that's how that experience really helped me open up further. But there's a lot of trial and error.
Jette Stubbs: Okay. There's so many amazing things out of what you said.
One is that transaction piece, listening to people and creating those win-win situations. I'll get this, you get this. There's no money. That's transacted. So you're growing something, but there's no actually actual money. That's like switched hands yet until it builds some momentum.
And I think so many people get stuck, Oh, I don't have any money. How am I going to do this? I can't start a business because I don't have any cash. How do I make this happen? And that's absolutely like what I did in the beginning to like creating win-win situations. I'll do this for you. And then maybe this will help you later down the road.
Like those are tremendously helpful in the relationships you build along the way. Cause then all of those people you're creating these win-win situations with grow, to create their own careers or grow in these different, or have friends who then they can connect you with. Yeah, the networks are so essential.
Like you mentioned earlier with finding your circle and stepping outside of your circle to [00:25:00] experience something different. So that I thought was amazing. The other piece that you talked about, which we talked about this a bit offline before the podcast, you talked about competencies versus incompetencies, like focusing more on your competencies versus your incompetency.
So can you elaborate a bit more on that? I think you've touched on it, but in a more like concrete way, just tell me a bit more.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. The fact is. I ended up in Germany, right? Germany is like, all the jobs are German, 80%, 20%of jobs are English. You're competing with everyone, EU because everybody can come and work there.
So all non German people are competing for those jobs. One thing I realized that early on there was everybody was tell me, you know, learn German, otherwise you won't find a job . But then I realized like, Oh my God, I'm going to waste so much time learning the business fluent German Or
I can just focus on the marketing skillset and show a company that I can help grow their business irrespective of my German skills. So this is exactly what I did. I [00:26:00] really decided on that day. No German. I speak transactional German, but I said, no, I'm not going to worry about my German from here.
What I'm going to worry about is tell company that my pitch is, if you work with me, I will help you increase your business. Let me show you how that works and that's the pitch. It was. And I basically just started working on the skill set I have, and that really changed the game because now I'm even though competing for the 20% English jobs, but now I'm so focused on my core competency that put me in top 10%.
And this is why I ended up working in Germany's biggest incubator, rocket internet afterward as a global venture development and help they're expanding their ventures in three or six different countries. But this all happened just because the day I decided that my competencies are my marketing skills and my incompetency is my language skill.
So this can sit and let me focus on what I know best. And that changed the game. .
Jette Stubbs: Okay. That's that [00:27:00] really is amazing because I think one of the things that I taught in one of my previous podcasts was the, that so many people think like education plus experience plus hard work equals success. And I think that's what you were taught initially when you're pursuing your engineering path.
And the real path to success is to solve problems that you enjoy solving that companies or clients are willing to pay for, and then ask for the compensation that you want in return. That's the better pathway to success. You need to find problems, you enjoy solving, and it sounded like you figured that out and you were creating win-win situations when it came to creating your blog, and then you moved to Germany.
And I'm curious as to why you chose to Germany out of okay. All the places you could go to but you were creating these win-win situations and then you like this, you knew you wanted to pursue marketing. And you're like, I need to do this in Germany, even though I don't speak German, let me create a win-win situation to a company.
How did you just pitch yourself as I'm going to do this for free again?[00:28:00]
Vivek Nanda: Different scenario. First of all, why Germany because like you said, I did my whole venture in India. I was completely sucked into marketing. And also I was completely sucked into now building a business, which is like a startup or starting my own or joining something like from ground up.
So that was my area. So what I realized that somewhere that gap of, I'm not a seller, I'm not a marketer. I don't have a business education, I'm still an engineer. So I was like, you know what? I need to go to San Francisco somehow. And I started looking at it. I'm like directly, you can just go. Visas doesn't work that way.
And I don't even have a job. But then I started you know what, let me do a business education. And because I anyway needed. So let me try to find a program. If I can get into a school without any debt. Because that will make me comfortable entering into the startup world I want, or start my thing only then it makes sense.
So I started looking through Canada, San Francisco, everything was expensive. Everything was putting me [00:29:00] like a 100 K debt. Even if I get scholarships, so I say, you know what? This is out of the equation. Then I started looking at what is the next startup hub? And then I saw that Berlin in Germany is the startup hub.
And then I started looking at what are the companies there? And everybody was from this rocket internet. I was like, what is this rocket internet? I heard about this. And this is the biggest non us out of automatically incubator e-commerce. So I looking at all these people that you know, on LinkedIn and they're all went to the same school.
In Germany, it's called WHU. And then I look at the school, this is the top German school for MBA, but the best thing about it was it had a 15 month program with collaboration, with Kellogg's for marketing. So you studied marketing and Kellogg's and you do your full rest of it at [00:30:00] Germany. And then I saw that this is, and they have a MBA specialization in entrepreneurship and an innovation.
And I see these people end up in rocket internet. And so I saw, I basically circled down that. That's my plan to end their rocket internet go to this school and go to Kellogg, study marketing and enhance my business side of marketing that I want and get back here. And the whole thing was the money thing now.
But then I collected all those references, those jobs that I did for free. So I applied for the entrepreneurship scholarship actually won that scholarship. One student gets it. So I got it for 50% of my tuition was waived. It was actually like I came out of 15 months. Debt-free. I completed the two months before I completed the program, I had my internship started at rocket internet from global to the open team.
So that was the [00:31:00] whole plan, which actually I worked backward while two years in advance while sitting in India.
Jette Stubbs: Okay. First of all, I love the way you think like that. I think so many people don't reverse engineer, their plan, like you said, you want it to be able to get to the U S and now, first of all, you're in the USA. You're in New York and you had the job at rocket internet.
Like you want it, but the research that you did, so many people don't do that research when they're planning out their careers. You would have had income coming in, correct. From what the business you'd already started to build out with a blog where you created those win-win situations.
And so now you're in Germany. How did you go from germany to now you've built out a few businesses so how did you make that, those next steps? And, yeah. Tell me more about what you did next.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah once I got into rocket internet, it was basically the brand there for startups. So once you get there, it's like the Harvard of startups.
And so once you get that stamp [00:32:00] on your thing, there will be like so many startups who want to, so that was obviously the strategy to get there and getting into there. The funny thing is that in the beginning I wanted to grow my own company. So I was pitching to our alumni, who are venture capital when our students stay that, Hey, I'm building this awesome idea.
It was like an Uber of for India. It actually now exists. Someone else built it. I was pitching to this guy as, and you know what I want to do it, but that wasn't, nobody was able to find it. And then again, I had no experience of raising fund and all that stuff by then.
So that was the very beginning. So I decided that you know what, instead of trying to build this, and also I wasn't that bought into the idea as much. So I was like, you know what, let me just go into a startup and then we'll go from there. So this is when I decided I would go for rocket internet and help learn how the machine works, how they expand launch into different countries and all that stuff.
So the [00:33:00] first year I worked there. And then I don't know, something happened to me. Terrible. I got some infectious disease after I came from back from China, I got sick and it was so mysterious. I spent 25 days in hospital there almost they told me that you have tuberculosis or something. I'm like, I don't even smoke cigarettes and they're tested.
And they were like, yeah German state test, test everything. It just went away automatically. But while I was on this bed there, I was thinking what I really wanted. I came to Germany thinking that I want to do stuff I really love. This is why I took all the risks in the world. But now after this, I need to take bigger risks, like what I want you to, because what's life may not be tomorrow.
So that realization made me like in the hospital, I actually cold email. This company, which was just starting a healthcare startup, because what happened was I got a boil on my shoulder. And when I went to the [00:34:00] ER, they told me that basically they admitted me and this is how it all started. So in my head it was like, Oh shit, I found a start-up.
If I would have gotten to the doctor earlier, it might be different. That's how I taught. So this startup was a tele-derm app that you can send a picture of your skin spot and you get a diagnosis anywhere in the way. So I actually cold email from the hospital to this company. They were still like three months just started.
And I cold emailed the founders saying that one of the founders saying that I have this background, I love your product. I would have used it. I wrote my story in that right now. And I think this is a game changer. I want to work for y'all. And then they say, Oh yeah, meet. And then we met and then they hired me basically.
So I started working there as a, in the beginning. I joined as entrepreneur in residence, basically helping with their strategy and [00:35:00] launching into new markets. But eventually I realized that their marketing, they had no marketing, they were working with agency. I saw the cost. I would I can make it a lot better than it was my third month.
So I challenged the founder because now I'm more risk-taking in my life. I say, you know what? Give marketing to me. If I don't do it, fire me in two months, he was like, sure, take it. And I took it and then it went so well. So that's the company we grew. Really. And then the founder was so much we've built so much good relationship and trust in my work.
And he invited me that, you know what? We are pivoting now, things aren't working in Europe, we're going to us. Are you coming with me? So that's how I took again, bets without visa, because in the beginning, visa is just like in process and it can get rejected. A company will die or the company will go back to Europe.
I will go back to India. He's gone too. So I took that big risk and that paid off that company grew. We grew it from we like, we, two people came here, founder and myself. And [00:36:00] then by the time I left the company a couple of years ago from now, it was already like 50 plus people. And it was in recently was funded by Google ventures.
So that, that was the whole bet taking scenarios and like how I went from like one, two and ended up in USA. And since then basically I've been in USA, of course through that company, once I got to USA,I worked and then things took place. So yeah, no here in USA.
Jette Stubbs: So how did you feel so comfortable taking those risks?
Was it just like you were sitting in that hospital bed and you were like, life is too short. Did you know you had a fallback plan? Like you could have went home to India and stayed with family or like how did you build up the confidence to take those risks?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. That's first of all, again, once you come from a developing country and middle-class family. You're very risk-averse. As much as I love my parents they're yeah. Still very risk averse. Like they're like, they'll tell you to take [00:37:00] a safe job versus do stuff like this. And that's something I, wish. And this is something that you don't control.
Like you had more people who were like entrepreneurs when you were growing up, because then it changes your mindset to think like that. And it took me along really 10 years after my professional career to go into that mode. But once I got into, once I got him to Germany, right? That was like a game changer for me, because I was like, you know what, the day I convinced myself that this in competency and competency stuff.
And I know that's like a game changer that basically gave me the strength to really work with the trust with my first be honest with what your true skill set is. And having that true skillset and making sure, and then having backing that with confidence that this is my true skill set.
This is what I'm going to bet on. Then it's like anywhere you are, you're betting on your skill and you trust yourself, right? This is your honest opinion of yourself. So [00:38:00] your risk taking become more calculated in a way, because you're betting on yourself, not the external environment anymore. And that's the thing you control yourself.
So that's pushed made it easier for me. I would say I'm still very restored because that's my upbringing. but a lot of people will say no, man, I don't know. Like my friends used to call me like what you left your Oracle managerial job and are intern at rocket internet.
I was like, yeah, because I love this side. I want to do but people are perspectives. But they, at the same time, they view me as like fool and a risk-taker right? This is it's just fine. That is sacred, foolish because otherwise they won't take risks high risk is always with higher return.
So I guess that's how it works. You take bets, but you take bets are not, it's not like a gamble. You're not gambling. What you're doing is you're taking calculated risk. And what you're doing is you by taking calculated risks, you just don't [00:39:00] go to the level where you feel comfortable.
You actually just push the envelope a level up, and that's where you have to go, where you start feeling uncomfortable. That's the area you need to go. That's the job you need to take. That's the place you have to be. And that's when you learn, grow, move, places things happen. So that's that's the whole school spiel.
Jette Stubbs: So I love everything that you said, like so much of the approach that you take to career development, what I try and get people to do But I know from my experience moving countries, that it is hard to do. Yes, you're pursuing something that you absolutely love and you love your work environment, but then how did you go about building like personal networks?
Like how did you go about building networks of people to support you? So you didn't feel alone in the new country? Cause that's the truth, right? That's the, it's wonderful to go and travel the world, but there is a side to it. That's hard. So can you talk a bit about that?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. So I don't know what prompted for [00:40:00] me to do this thing, but this is exactly what I did.
When I landed in New York city, I spent the first eight months, each month in a different area, in a new Airbnb. I don't know what was the reason, but I think it was just my fascination of New York city. And I wanted to explore it to the level that each month I want to live in a different borough and different neighborhood.
And so what I was doing was I was living off like one bag and one that bag in one suitcase and each month I will book an Airbnb in a completely different neighborhood in the city. And I started with Brooklyn, Harlem then moved upper East, upper West, then went back downtown, then move away, like far Brooklyn then basically a whole New York city.
And that it was like I was meeting new people every time. And but then again I was single then, so I was also [00:41:00] making use of Tinder. Yeah, every time I was in a new area, I was meeting and this is New York city. So you were meeting you meet every time, a girl from a different country.
So that was also it's the dating was great. It just expands your horizon. But also the people who might live with all of those, I'm still like in touch with them. Maybe just one experience was bad. Everything else was like, we still have good relationship. I'm still connected to social media or we bump into somewhere else.
It's like a network. Some of them were musicians. We of them were like this lady who lived in Harlem is like a CFO for a museum and fascinating. And I'm like supervisor, this is people whom I will never get in touch with like ever in my normal life. But now I'm experiencing all these people, their lives and the great things.
They do this musician guy. When I was living, he actually called me one time after the dinner, I was getting back to his place. You say you're in the room. And I was like, yeah, [00:42:00] they come over, let's meet. I met him. And he was like, Hey dude, I don't know this music director from India. I just got a guy who is backed out from his show.
And he plays saxophone, this guy. So he was like asking me, who is this guy? I let go. I saw his YouTube video. And I was like, this, you, if you don't go to this one he's Bollywood's top 10 and you will get like free tours. You'll be like, your career will be set. You took my word. He went there and then he went on world war II and amazing.
And I was like, if I wasn't there, he would not have asked to someone and who knows what to answer. It's like all timing and The God or the world sets up everything like in its own ways. And you are there for a reason for someone sometimes it's your reason. Sometimes it's other people's reason you're there for, so it makes sense in that way.
And some, and that day I was there for him to push in his career and that changed his life. And it was a great thing. And he was [00:43:00] part of that tour. I saw his YouTube videos and all that stuff. But it's my mind is also moving to all these new things. Now they're doing artists stuff, and now I'm getting exposed to the marketing of physicians where, so now I pick stuff from musician marketing and built into the wall, the boring stuff in the software marketing and combine them and create this thing.
So this is like all helpful. So you're learning skills. But yeah, I guess that trick of living in different neighborhoods, connecting with different people. You already started building network. You went to Tinder even to Tinder dates like those girls and we feel them, people are still connected.
And if your intentions are good you're not doing anything nothing shady, then it's all good. You're going to meet good people most of the times. Yeah, that's how it worked for me. It's funny. When I moved to Toronto, I did something very similar. Like I moved and I lived in different areas of the city for the first like year and a half or [00:44:00] so until I figured it out.
Jette Stubbs: Cause I had no idea the layout, like what areas were saver with areas like where I could go and do stuff. Like I had no idea. So I lived in different neighborhoods and just got shorter term leases to begin with. And I made different, I didn't end up. Staying in touch with my roommates like you did, but I did end up like going out on dates because I was single and I was in the city.
So I went to, I ended up just using Tinder and some of the people that I use on Tinder, like six or seven years ago have recently become my clients. Cause now they know they, I do career and business coaching and they're like, yeah, you were talking to me about this while you were building out your business.
Now I'm at this place where I'm trying to like, take the next step in my career and try to take this next step. Would you mind like I'm ready to pay for your services? It's not like we stayed in touch, we become friends, but can I use your services? So that's totally happened for me, but it's interesting to see somebody else say the exact same story without knowing that everything that you did seems right on.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. I actually tell a lot of specialty single [00:45:00] people, if you're moving to a new place. Don't get don't get bogged down in places and businesses the time, like you have literally no risk in your life with that. Like you have all the available resources, the easiest thing, you can do it on your cell phone.
Just get there, read people. And that's how it thinks. In worst case, what will happen if you will just explore a new area, new food, a new date? My story, honestly, like the fact is the reality is one of those dates was my to be wife whom we are married and now we have a baby and last year we had our first child, but thanks.
And we, and I tell him both of us, we tell the story, she moved from Philadelphia to New York, just like in the big name. And I moved from Berlin to New York and we were just like, Swiping and we just met, we met and I'm pretty sure we both had more dates that then when we first met, but then once it, you just meet and you it's, if it's organic, you [00:46:00] keep meeting and meeting.
And then we ended up going to a Euro trip. By ourselves. And then we really stuck a connection there. And then afterwards we started the relationship. The paths, it's just who knows I found a wife thanks to Airbnb and Tinder. So
Jette Stubbs: that's amazing. I think the biggest thing that I would take from you, because it's absolutely true from my own experiences, as well as just constantly stepping.
But like you said, that level above your comfort zone, like going out and constantly meeting people, expanding your circle because you wouldn't have met your wife. You wouldn't have met your business partners. If you had just stayed and like just kept on doing the same cycle over and over again. You'd probably still be in India working for Oracle.
Vivek Nanda: Look, no disrespect. People might be still happy doing that and that's a choice you make, but I think You won't be having this conversation if you're not aspirational. So this is why I tell them if you're already thinking that that means you're already aspirational. You're already over the people who are comfortable [00:47:00] doing what they're doing.
You're already questioning your life. That's a good thing. So you're already a step ahead and let's take this further now. Like where do you want to go? Where you want to be envision that and work backwards and you will know you'll be surprised how things work.
Jette Stubbs: I love it. I love it. Okay. So what do you do now?
Like you're in New York now, like what's you do. Yeah. What are you doing now? What are projects or I feel like you may have so many things going on, but yeah. Tell me a bit about what you have going. Obviously I still work at another startup right now and it's so very early stage startup, so I am VP of marketing there and basically helping that business grow software, they sell into to big companies.
Vivek Nanda: So globally, so that's still there. And but like I have, I probably see a lot of question projects and one of the ones, one of the projects that I do is with my experience, especially on the marketing side, And what I try to help people [00:48:00] with is if they need a career in startups and with marketing, even if they don't have the skillset right now, or they have the skill set and they're struggling to find a job.
So I help them with that and help them get the job. Basically their mentor are hand-holding them just like strategies that I have use like cold emailing and getting interviews. Yeah. So fine-tuning those and showing them that, how to if there is a marketing job, for example, social media, instead of just applying, why not make a tick talk media and then apply and directly send the founder.
That's different. So strategies like this. So I use on, basically, I say I help you growth hack your marketing jobs.
Jette Stubbs: I love that because growth hacking is so important and I've helped, like some of the clients I've helped them grow their audiences, but I think people get so scared when it comes to applying that to other areas of their career or emailing a CEO.
If you tell the average person who's working a nine to five, okay. I want you to go and pitch yourself to the CEO and go and make a [00:49:00] video. They'd be terrified. Like I think that sort of support that you're giving that growth hacking for like marketing and startups, because I think so many people would like that dynamic work.
I think that's super important. What would you say are some, sorry,
Vivek Nanda: go ahead. It's funny that people are so scared of this thing, and sometimes you really are not even looking for a job. It has happened to me and I posted on LinkedIn a few days ago. My 2016 email and there's this big company in New York called CB insights.
They was very early at back then a research company and. I got their email. It was, they mentioned about their marketing stack, what tools they are using and basically how they do marketing. And I was so interested in their content that I responded back with a long email with suggestions like, Hey, why don't you fix this in your stack?
Or do these things to the next email I got was from the CEO again, whom I responded to back, eh, I was on a vacation on the plane, but I did want him to respond to this email, willing to work. [00:50:00] Are you looking to work, looking for work? Would you like to meet me? I was like, no, I'm not looking for work like sometimes work comes like this.
Sometimes you just stand out so much. What I say to people is it's not always about like growth hacking to find it. Sometimes. It's just if you believe in certain things and you have an opinion, don't shy away from expressing it, who knows where it lands. Don't worry about that. Just do your part, thinking that you are paying it forward, even if it's work, you're doing it because it's your passion.
The thing is whenever you're paid forward, you always work, stay, something comes back to you. So that's very important as you, if you're not looking for a job, do that, and you will make connections. And I still have connection with the founder. We are connected on LinkedIn, but I posted two after four or five years that post a couple of months ago.
To, just to from my connections and [00:51:00] people to know that you can use these strategies, he was the first one to come in there. Thanks to work. Okay. That is, that's absolutely amazing. One, one question that I'd want to ask you is because you've worked so much in the startup space.
Jette Stubbs: I think so many people like idealize it and they say, Oh yes, I really want to work up in a startup space. I was one of those people too. I think there are pros and cons to working in a startup space. So what are you, what do you see as some of the pros and cons as somebody who's worked both in a corporate environment and in a startup environment?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. I think more than the pros and the cons, it's like you as a person, what are your pros and cons forget about companies like what's like your playground, where do you belong? I think that's, this is why I say the biggest thing in your life you will do for yourself is being honest to who you are and where you want to be.
It doesn't have to be. Like a scale that you have to follow. Your scale could be this, and that's [00:52:00] fine too, because this is your happiness and this is, and that defines your, and that scale defines how you look at things. If there's really no point in explaining pros and cons to startups and big companies, it's really like what you feel and that you define the scale, then measure situation and stuff with that scale.
This is what I am looking for. And quite honestly, people don't take this permission that they have the right to question this. They have the right to build their own scale, build it, measure it. And then you find if it worked for you to pursue or not.
Jette Stubbs: I absolutely. I agree. But I think it's also important for people to understand, because so often when you're going into an environment, you don't know enough about it to analyze you know yourself, but you don't know enough about the environment to say, okay, like for me, when.
When I found like working in a corporate environment can be great because it's very established startups. There's so much room for you to potentially grow. [00:53:00] Like with corporate environments, people can be so specialized with different areas of work. And sometimes it's Oh, you can't do this because you're stepping on somebody else's job.
But that depends on the corporation. But this startup it's okay, CEO, I can help solve this problem for you. Give me the running room. I'll take I'll take on the risk. Like you did. It sounds so many times. And the CEO is more like, okay, I need this problem solved. You're taking the initiative.
Yeah, sure. Go ahead and do this, have this great learning opportunity. If it succeeds, I'll pay you some extra money after the fact. So, I absolutely agree. With what you just said, I think, but when so many people are going into new situations, they're not sure how to evaluate, like I know myself, but I don't know enough about this environment.
And how do I figure out these questions? I think for you, you've taken some leaps because you knew you loved marketing and you knew you loved startups space. And so you did your MBA in it and you built out your marketing experience in it. But if you didn't know, you loved all those things. Like you found that out while you were in India, because you were doing it on the side [00:54:00] and you're doing that exploration.
And I think some people don't have, I guess the answer is to do that exploration on the side, right?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. Again, I guess naturally you won't do a stuff unless you, you find a pull towards it. So you need to find your pull of something. And again, I go back to the answers are not outside it's inside.
So it's like very much intrinsic to yourself, like understanding. Do I really like, like it I like it marketing short, but my first challenge was, do I have the skillset. I don't know. I didn't, I tried okay. Building the skillset. Like when I tried that, so once I had the skillset, I had the passion.
Now my next question was, can I grow the third dimension? Is, can I build this skillset further in my career by myself or with the help of others? Can I grow? And if I see these three, all greens and yeah, that's the direction I'm taking. But if I would have said yeah, I have the skill set. I have the passion, but I don't think I would grow into this.
[00:55:00] Maybe I would ditch it because it does not make sense because I want to cut here, which is like growing. So I this is actually a CEO of a big Indian it company made this diagram for us, for me on a napkin. He said, skill and passion. You look for what you want to do. And I was like, yeah, but I need to also learn.
So I put a third dimension to it, learning. What I want to like growth. Can I have growth for myself in this part where I'm going, and that will define my area if I will pursue or not. So that's a, you have to look at it, big companies, small company, but I will say like big companies, obviously big companies, but I've done stuff in big companies that no one do. I have done startup approaches in big companies. One time I prepared a presentation about changing the whole software. I wasn't like, even in that role, I sent it to the VP of product and said to him this is what I think about. And this is the warden guy in us, California emailing you back.
They're like, can you do a full [00:56:00] presentation to me? And I did. And they promoted me. They created a product strategy role for me, just for no reason, because I did this. So I think the philosophy doesn't change as much, but I think you need to understand what is your pool? Intrinsically. What is your scale?
What is your passion? And can you grow? The growth part is important to know, because a lot of people forget about that. Otherwise you become stagnant in your career and it's boring. And then you feel like this is stuck again. The important thing is it's like the game is infinite that it's not a finite game.
That's how, you're the thing. The growth is infinite. Not finite. If you are in a final game, you will get bored. You will get stuck. So don't get stuck, make choices, thinking that there is a room so much that you will pass this life. So that's how you,
Jette Stubbs: okay. I love it. So if somebody wanted to connect with you and learn about that support that you offer for people trying to develop their careers in, actually before I go there what is [00:57:00] one lesson you'd want to leave somebody with for if they're just starting out.
If they're trying to make that shift in their career and reinvent themselves.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah, I think like I keep going back to this be honest with yourself where you stand currently and where you can develop your skillset from there. I'll be honest because you are the only answer external thing.
Doesn't matter. You are your own jet. And from there once what are your core competencies? What are your incompetencies? So stop wasting time on, in competency. Start focusing on things that you have because you already heard in the game, just make it better instead of working from the ground up again.
And lastly, when you are looking at career, look at your skill short skills that you have right now, passion, are you passionate about it? But don't forget if there's a room to learn, willingness to learn will define your target. [00:58:00] Cartier our paths, whatever you want to take it forward. So those three things together are actually very connected, but this three together will get you to a path, which is I'm not the smartest person in the room.
That's what I always tell, but I know how to stand out in the room. And that, because I focused competencies, not in competencies, very clear on what I want, skill and passion and skill set I can learn and turn. Yeah. Is really just be honest with myself. The things that I don't know is don't know, like that's the honest answer and things.
I know. I know. And I just questioned the things I don't know, and learn from the people and build my skillset from there. That's it like, it's really simplified the game but it's all you it's like stop evaluating what everyone says. Stop looking inward and answer this question and go for it.
Jette Stubbs: Okay. I love that. And where can people find you if they want to connect with you more?
Vivek Nanda: Yeah, I'm most active on LinkedIn. So look for a vague number. VP of [00:59:00] marketing at Georgia tech. You'll find me there and I'm also on Twitter. My handle is V I C K K S Vickks. And you can find me there too. Okay, great.
Jette Stubbs: And my final question is what is your proudest accomplishment?
Because you've done so much now. So what's your proudest accomplishment so far with everything going from figuring out you'd want to leave engineering to now being VP of marketing at like startups, multiple startups.
Vivek Nanda: Yeah. I don't know. I feel like all the successes in your life are only in that moment.
They'll be pals. This kid goes up. I just feel like this, I don't think it's like a. Like one thing I can think points like I'm proudest of that, but I think I just, the proud moments are more now with what you do for people, what you do for community. That's not anymore.
It's a secret for me as a profession, that's completely different scale. I think the joy of [01:00:00] doing those things are my goal is to help 1 million people, some impact with my learnings through channels like yours through your podcast, it will reach more people. And I haven't reached there my first million and then that million will pass that knowledge to another million.
But that's the moment I'm chasing right now. That will be the proud moment where I can just like, feel like that some impact. Okay.
Jette Stubbs: That's amazing. So thank you so much for vac. I really appreciate having you on the podcast and you gave so many useful pieces of advice and your story itself is amazing.
So thank you. And I'm actually hope to have you back on in the future. So I'd love to
Vivek Nanda: chat with you again. Likewise, it's been fun and my pleasure having a great conversation. Thank you. Thanks again for having me.
Jette Stubbs: You're listening to the Happy Career Formula with Jette Stubbs where we talk about how to find what you love to do and turn it into ways to make money, whether that's a job, freelance service or a business, so you can live life on your own terms.[01:01:00]
this is a career and business podcast, but my two main goals for what I want to offer you are: one the tools to build a career that aligns with who you are.
So you can make money in a way that funds your life goals and the lifestyle that you want to build for yourself. Two, to have healthier relationships with yourself and others.
Because I think that if you have your financial resources together and you have good people around you, you can live a happier life.
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